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State v. Prieto

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning

June 1, 2017

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
JEVON PRIETO DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio Case No. 2012 CR 1264

          For Plaintiff-Appellee: Atty. Paul J. Gains Mahoning County Prosecutor Atty. Ralph M. Rivera Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          For Defendant-Appellant: Atty. David J. Betras Atty. Frank L. Cassese Betras, Kopp & Harshman LLC

          Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary DeGenaro Hon. Carol Ann Robb

          OPINION

          WAITE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant Jevon Prieto appeals an April 6, 2015 Mahoning County Common Pleas Court decision denying a motion to suppress evidence seized from his truck. Appellant argues that the trial court erroneously denied the motion as the officers did not have a warrant to search his truck and none of the warrant exceptions applied. Additionally, Appellant argues that the officers lacked probable cause to detain him. For the reasons that follow, Appellant's arguments are without merit and the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural History

         {¶2} On December 1, 2012, the Youngstown Police Department received a missing person report and officers went to speak with the woman who filed the report. The woman told the officers that she believed that Appellant had abducted the victim. The woman described Appellant's vehicle as a bright yellow Ford pickup truck. The officers were familiar with Appellant and his vehicle. The officers drove to Appellant's house to speak with him and saw the truck parked in the driveway. The officers directed their spotlight at the truck and saw Appellant sitting in the driver's seat. A female companion was sitting in the passenger's seat.

         {¶3} As the officers walked towards the truck, Appellant and his companion left the truck and began walking towards the house. The officers approached Appellant before he reached the house and questioned him about the victim's disappearance. Appellant denied involvement in the matter. During this discussion, Officer George Anderson noticed that Appellant was smoking a marijuana cigarette. At about the same time, another officer saw loose marijuana lying on the front seat of Appellant's truck. Officer Anderson asked Appellant for the key to the truck, but Appellant refused. As Appellant was becoming increasingly agitated, Officer Anderson handcuffed him, stating that its purpose was officer safety. Officer Anderson then called his supervisor, who told him to retrieve the key from Appellant's person. Officer Anderson found the key in Appellant's pocket and used it to open the door of the truck. Once the door was opened, a gun was immediately visible on the driver's seat floor. Appellant was arrested and charged with one count of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle, a felony of the fourth degree in violation of R.C. 2923.16(B), (I)(2), and one count of having a weapon while under a disability, a felony of the third degree in violation of R.C. 2923.13(A)(2), (B).

         {¶4} On February 10, 2014, Appellant filed a motion to suppress the evidence. The trial court held a suppression hearing on April 1, 2015. Officer Anderson and Officer Josh Kelly testified at this hearing. On April 6, 2015, the trial court denied Appellant's motion. On November 23, 2015, Appellant pleaded guilty to having a weapon while under disability. Pursuant to a Crim.R. 11 plea agreement, the state dismissed the remaining charge. The trial court accepted the parties' sentence recommendation and sentenced Appellant to two years of incarceration. This timely appeal followed.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

THE TRIAL COURT DENIED THE DEFENDANT HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 1, SECTION 14, OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION, BY OVERRULING HIS MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE OBTAINED BY THE POLICE WHERE THE BASIS OF PROBABLE CAUSE WAS INSUFFICIENT.

         {¶5} A motion to suppress presents mixed issues of law and fact. State v. Lake, 151 Ohio App.3d 378, 2003-Ohio-332, 784 N.E.2d 162, ¶ 12, (7th Dist.), citing State v. Jedd, 146 Ohio App.3d 167, 171, 765 N.E.2d 880 (4th Dist.2001). If a trial court's findings of fact are supported by competent, credible evidence, an appellate court must accept them. Id. The appellate court must then determine whether the trial court's decision met the applicable legal standard. Id.

         {¶6} Appellant argues that the officers did not have a warrant to search his truck and none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applied. Appellant contends that the plain view doctrine does not apply here, as the officers were not lawfully on his property. Appellant also argues that the automobile exception does not apply since the truck was not mobile at the time of the search. ...


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